08/22/2016 3:11PM

Handle up sharply at Laurel Park summer meet


A total of $45.7 million was wagered on the races at Laurel Park during its summer meet, which concluded Sunday, an increase of 22 percent from the $37.3 wagered last year, according to Sal Sinatra, president of the Maryland Jockey Club.

Both meets had 24 racing dates.

Daily average handle at this summer's meet was $1.9 million, up from $1.55 million in 2015.

“We continue to buck industry trends and see increases in our product,” Sinatra said. “Horsemen continue to support our growing program with great racing and large fields. Fans are also taking note of our great racing and world-class turf course."

The Maryland Jockey Club continues to make improvements to the Laurel facility. A new sports bar is under construction and expected to open soon.

Plans call for Laurel to begin a Sunday handicapping contest in the near future and to offer double-reward-point contests on Sunday football.

The Laurel fall meet, which has a $4 million stakes schedule, opens Sept. 9, following the conclusion of the Timonium meet at the Maryland State Fair, which runs from Aug. 26 to Sept. 5.

Toledo, Keefe, Smith win titles

Jockey Jevian Toledo won the summer-meet riding title with 29 wins, nine more than Feargal Lynch. Victor Carrasco was leading the standings when he injured his right foot Aug. 7. The injury forced Carrasco to miss the final six days of the meet.

Toledo finished the meet strong, winning with 12 of his final 42 mounts during the last six days of the stand. The title is the second for Toledo, who led the standings at last year's Laurel fall meet.

Tim Keefe and Hamilton Smith tied for the training title by winning 10 races each. The title was the first for Keefe, 49.

"We started out real strong,” Keefe said. “I wish we would have finished a little stronger than we did, but we had a great first part of the meet, and we’ve got some really good talent in the barn."

The title was the fifth in Maryland for Smith, who had won the 2007 spring meet, the 1999 and 2000 winter-spring meets, and the 1998-99 winter meet.

"Some of the better horses ran well, and I’m glad to see them use some of the better races for them," said Smith, 71. "It’s a good feeling. You win the title, and it gives you a good feeling. I don’t care what anybody says, it does."